We caught up with one of the cornet players from the Leyland Band, Gary Westwood, ahead of the band's performance at Morley Town Hall on Saturday 7 December as part of the Leeds Best of Brass 2019/20 series.
How long have you played with the Leyland Band?
38 years, I joined Leyland from the Lostock Hall Memorial Band in 1981, with my first competition with Leyland being the last British Open Championship to be held at Belle View, Manchester.
What's the best thing about playing in a brass band?
Lot's of things, from the music to the people, the best thing being when all the elements come together to produce great engaging performances with band and audience enjoying the experience equally.
What’s your highlight so far with the Leyland Band?
As much as contest success is important and I've been proud to have played in winning performances at the British Open and National Championship with Leyland, I really enjoy concert performances with some of the most memorable being those performed abroad, including Leyland's first of four tours of the USA.
How did you get involved with playing a brass instrument?
I was taken to my local band for lessons at the age of nine by my mum - I hadn't asked to go!!!
What was your earliest musical experience?
I remember hymn singing in church and later hearing bands in village summer processions.
Who has been your biggest influence?
Musically, undoubtedly Richard Evans, Leyland's legendary musical director through the eighties to the noughties. I was 18 when I joined Leyland and learned so much about music and life during the formative years from the experiences Richard guided the band through.
Do you enjoy practising or find it a chore?
Honestly? Practising on my own is a chore, rehearsing with the band is much more satisfying.
Were your parents musical?
Neither played a musical instrument, though my uncle did play in a brass band. That's where my mum got the idea to to take me along to our local band to learn.
What piece of music do you most enjoy playing?
Horses for courses I believe. I get the most pleasure performing pieces which connect with whichever audience we are playing to. Playing the wrong piece to the wrong audience doesn't give me any satisfaction however well we play it.
What’s the best and worst things about performing?
I genuinely don't think there is a 'worst' thing about performing for me, I've always enjoyed performance much more than rehearsing.
What can the audience expect from a performance by the Leyland Band?
Leyland's programmes are fresh and accessible and engaging, and retain the DNA Richard instilled in us - "it's entertainment, not education gentlemen" - all performed with zest and quality. That's why Leyland remains one of the best and busiest concert bands around.
View the Leeds Best of Brass 2019/20 brochure online
Leeds Best of Brass Series 2019/20:
Saturday 19 October 2019 - Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band
Saturday 16 November 2019 - Tredegar Town Band
Saturday 7 December 2019 - Leyland Band
Saturday 18 January 2020 - Black Dyke Band
Saturday 8 February 2020 - Grimethorpe Colliery Band
Saturday 7 March 2020 - Foden's Band
Saturday 4 April 2020 - Brighouse & Rastrick Band
Saturday 25 April 2020 - Rothwell Temperance Band